The Freedom Challenge

The Freedom Challenge Race Across South Africa is an "unsupported" non-stage mountain bike race of approximately 2,300 km across South Africa. While recent winners have won in around 11 days, the race cut-off is 26 days. The race starts in Pietermaritzburg in early-to-mid-June, and ends in Paarl near Cape Town. Temperatures are known to drop as low as minus-10 deg. Celsius. While there are periodic "support stations" which will feed and accommodate riders should they require, the race is unsupported in the sense that riders must carry their own clothing and equipment, are responsible for their own maintenance and navigation (without the aid of GPS), and there are no marshalls or safety officials on the course (Race monitoring is done by satellite tracking). Estimates of cumulative ascent are around 37,000 metres, and the highest point on the route is approximately 2,700 metres above sea level. See the following link for an introductory slideshow by Mike Roy - http://mg.co.za/multimedia/2010-02-04-extreme-endurance-the-freedom-challenge

Thursday, 14 June 2012

A Selection of Glenn's Opposition (Part 3) - The Adventure Addict


It seems like the Freedom Challenge is made for racers aged around late-30s early-40s, often after they have built up some serious credentials elsewhere. Also starting in Batch J with Glenn, at age 38, is Graham Bird. He is the leader of the Merrell Adventure Addicts Andventure racing team.

The Merrell Adventure Addicts website describes his achievements as follows: “Graham has been involved in sport since 1986, when he starting canoeing. Graham has been one of South Africa’s top canoeists since the early nineties, winning 28 South African titles and being selected for 14 national teams (7 as captain).  Over this period, Graham has also had numerous top five finishes at World Canoeing Championship and World Cup events all over the world.  He has also won the majority of the major canoe races held in South Africa.  Graham now focuses his energies on competing in adventure racing, trail running, mountain biking, canoeing and multisport events around the country, regularly finishing in the top 5% of these races. Graham brings a strong leadership quality to the team, having served on both the Canoeing South Africa and Gauteng Canoe Union committees.  He has also been a regular organiser of events and managed teams competing at the World Championships.”

Like Martin Dreyer, Graham makes life “interesting” for the veteran racers such as Glenn, because while he is perhaps yet to take on the RASA seriously, his exploits in other sporting events prove his worth as a top endurance sportsman, talents which can easily be transferred. Last year, he accompanied Merrell team member Tatum Prins as she broke the women’s record, and recorded a 19 days, 7 hours and 55 minutes finish in the process. But again like Martin Dreyer who did his 1st Freedom Challenge last year, one senses that Graham is capable of far better.

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